The decision, approved by the member states in April, was published in the Official Journal of the European Union, which means it has officially taken effect.
The new standards include tighter rules for emissions of nitrous oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), mercury and tiny pieces of harmful dust known as ‘particulate matter’. These toxic substances are linked to a number of health and environmental issues, including the development of asthma in children and the pollution of Europe’s air and water.
The fuels covered by the decision include solid fuels such as coal or lignite, biomass, liquid fuels, gas, industry-specific fuels and waste, except mixed municipal waste.
Christian Schaible, a manager at the European Environmental Bureau, a network of environmental groups, welcomed the decision as a step in the right direction but stressed that the new standards were just the minimum requirements and it was up to national authorities to act further.